Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Virginia Project

Subchronic effects of atrazine exposure on freshwater mussel (Unionidae) physiology and genetics

August 2007 - August 2011


Participating Agencies

  • USFWS Region 5

Atrazine is a commonly used chemical on corn crops in the upper Tennessee River and Ohio River systems, where18 federally endangered mussel species reside. Because this corn crop is adjacent to riparian zones and can readily wash into rivers after a rain event, it is essential to assess the effect of this chemical on freshwater mussels. Therefore, the specific objectives of this project are as follows: 1. determine the effects of Atrazine exposure on respiration and clearance rates of mussels. 2. determine the effect of Atrazine exposure on the developmental stages of gametes. 3. determine the level of Atrazine-DNA adduct formation through liquid scintillation counting. 4. develop permanent images of the Atrazine-DNA adducts through thin-layer chromatography and autoradiography. 5. compare levels of Atrazine-DNA adduct formation in digestive gland tissue to that of mantle and gill tissue biopsies. This project will develop a tiered approach to biomarker use at the molecular, cellular and whole mussel level, as a means to assess the level of harmful effects from Atrazine.